Northwest ISD isn’t quite a thriving baseball metropolis yet, but Jeremy Fatheree believes it can be.
That’s why he left his post of eight years as head coach of the Cedar Hill Longhorns to take the same position at Eaton High School, which opens its doors this fall, he said.
Eaton baseball, like all team sports, will play a JV schedule this year and will move to the varsity level next year. Individual sports will compete in varsity play at the 4A level.
Fatheree’s role at Eaton will be his second head coaching position since graduating from Dallas Baptist University at the turn of the millennium, posting a record of 176-74-2 as the head coach at Cedar Hill, making several playoff appearances and helping many players earn college scholarships.
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“I don’t think it was anything we did than just make the kids work harder,” he said. “Make them understand what it was like to be a college player and reach a goal and a dream that they had never really had an idea of what it really took to get there first.”
Fatheree played high school ball at Grand Prairie under head coach Jon Rustenhaven in a program that produced major leaguers such as Kerry Wood, Jeff Ryan and Kevin Walker.
How did you get into coaching?
I knew that I had no interest in playing pro ball, so I started getting in the education program at Dallas Baptist right away. I knew I wanted to coach, so it was easy for me to kind of – not walk away from baseball – but say my time is done. Plus, they had 18 year-olds on campus that were better than I was and I was 23.
What attracted you to the job at Eaton?
The thing about Cedar Hill is – everyone knows [Cedar Hill football head coach] Joey [McGuire] and Joey is a great friend of mine – it’s very much a football and basketball community first. Being a baseball player and a baseball coach, I wanted to be in an area that took baseball a little more seriously.
[In Northwest ISD] I think the parents are really starting to push that direction and I want to be in a community that holds baseball at a high standard, where if the kids win 25 or 30 games, the community is excited and proud of them rather than just being an afterthought. That’s the way it’s been in the past. At Cedar Hill, we had our athletic director who kind of understood that, but I don’t think those kids ever got the respect they deserved in that city because it was such a football and basketball community first. I don’t think they ever understood what those baseball players were doing as far as going out and being able to compete with Coppell and Jesuit and things like that.
I’m excited to move on to a community where the baseball players get the treatment they deserve.
What kind of baseball do you like your teams to play?
We overachieve. That’s one thing I always say, if the kid is a sixth-round draft pick, I want him to play like a third-round pick. If the kid is a JUCO player, I want him to play like a four-year player. If the kid is a good scorekeeper, I want him to play like a JUCO player. That’s just the way it is. I think we’ve always held our players accountable to a level of over-achievement. To my coaching staff, giving in is never an option. You overcome, because you have to. You take away giving in or flat-out saying that person is better than me. We don’t say that.
Because of that, they’re tough. Outside of asking our players to overachieve, we take away all fear. We prepare them 100 percent. We pride ourselves as a staff in never being fooled or surprised by anything we see on our field.
How important is this first class to the development of this program? What is your initial message to them?
This is my initial message to them. It’s the same think I told Dr. [Susan] Elza, our athletic director. I wouldn’t have cared if we were playing a varsity schedule this year, because they would have been held to the same accountability level that they’re going to be at JV. I’m used to playing freshmen and sophomores on my varsity at Cedar Hill, and have to go up against Midlothian, and go up against Mansfield. They’re going to be held to the standard that a varsity starting player is going to held. I don’t care if they’re going to play JV baseball. They’re never going to go out and look like a JV team if they do all take that personally. Those players know that. I’ve met those players. I’ve met pretty much everyone that’s going to be in the period to start and they seem like great, hard-working kids with parents who really are really supporting. I’m telling you right now, if we’re not one of the better JVs around, I’m going to be pretty upset about that.